Commercials

February 09, 2010

Super Bored with Babies and Puppies

This hilarious Stop Babies and Puppies campaign from the AICP (Association of Independent Commercial Producers) comes just in time for the post-Super Bowl ad hangover. In it, they implore marketers to stop resorting to trite cliches in the name of pushing product. The site is packed full of goodies, including a Cliche Ad Machine that lets you create your own spot using stock footage of blankets-swaddled babies,  puppies frolicking in meadows and the like.

And make no mistake about it - while babies and puppies are singled out as the  scapegoat here, screaming zoo animals, frat boy beer humor and random hot chicks in bathtubs are just as guilty.  But let's switch gears and call out a few spots that didn't put me in the mood to break some bottles (your beer sucks anyway Budweiser), stomp a chicken (I wouldn't eat a Dennys Grand Slam even if they paid me) or boycott the sponsor once and for all (good thing you're so cheap, GoDaddy). 

Dodge Charger - good. Google - very good. But my favorite spot of all came from a most unlikely source, the video game Dante's Inferno. I saw nary a mention of this little gem in all the post-game coverage, but its surprising union of brilliant, fiery graphics with a soulful Bill Withers classic made it rise above all the clucking, roaring competition that surrounded it. Just like that 3rd quarter onside kick, it's an excellent example of how beautiful (and successful) an unexpected move can be.


June 05, 2009

The agency is thy shepherd.

Now that Current TV is inviting viewers to create commercials (VCAMS) for big name brand partners, Ad Week has called for traditional agencies to rethink their role: “from serving as creative drivers to brokers and brand shepherds.” In a sense, this is what we do already. Agencies don’t simply churn out creative in a vacuum. We work in partnership with the client to develop campaigns that define, promote and protect the brand. What’s changed is the number of different platforms on which to execute these campaigns.

With sophisticated creative and production tools now readily available to anyone who wants it, agencies aren’t the only ones putting material out there anymore. We’re not even the only ones putting out good material. The winning VCAMS look 100% professional and polished—and they cost peanuts compared to typical agency fees.

So, agencies can feel threatened by the loss of control or get excited by the opportunities it presents.

This creative explosion is less about Joe Public usurping the role of professional agencies and more about, as the folks at Digg put it,  “teaching brands to borrow from the grammar of the experience.” (Case in point: Digg's new advertising model will allow viewers to Digg up ads, thus controlling impressions and CPC the same way they determine news readership.)

On a network built around viewer generated content like Current TV, why wouldn't advertisers  communicate via viewer generated commercials? But whatever “grammar” you’re using, everyone must still speak the language of the brand. And that’s where an agency comes in. Someone still needs to write the language. But instead of doing all the talking ourselves we have to find ways to teach the language to others. And get them excited about speaking it. And in the end, be open to all of their translations.

Of course, the other alternative is to invent the platform. That way, you're guaranteed control of the creative that lives on it. At least until it catches on.